Roof Repair 101 – Steps to Contract an Edmonton Roofer

Roof Repair Edmonton, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Fort Saskatchewan, St Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc, Nisku, Beaumont, Edson, Drayton Valley, Camrose, Wetaskiwin and many more rural areas and towns in Central and Northern Alberta. [Note to reader: This article is a local Edmonton, Alberta adaptation of an article I originally wrote and published to our national roof repair blog. I have adapted the article specific to roof repairs in Edmonton considering the local weather and climate and how our local climate affects roofing material, install, and venting decisions.]

How to Contract a Roofer for Roofing Repair in Edmonton, Alberta.

A little about my roofing background first. I began my roofing career in Alberta about ten years ago. Over the last ten years I have managed crews on commercial and residential for flat roofing, steep pitch and industrial metal roofing from Vancouver to Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina to Toronto. After managing roofers on thousands of roof repairs and various types of work sites all over Canada I can confidently provide you with the key steps of preparation you should engage before hiring your roofing contractor of choice. Hiring an Edmonton roofer for roof repair requires the following steps: Is Your Leaky Edmonton Roofing Repair a Real Emergency or Can it Wait Until the Next Day? The only reason you want to call a roof repair contractor in the evening or on weekends is if it is a real serious emergency. Emergency evening and weekend roof repairs can be expensive and in many instances the leak can't be stopped anyway in the dark or when the roof is too wet. Most roof leaks can wait to be assessed until the next day. But of course, some cannot. We respond to emergency roof repairs for public buildings like commercial businesses (such as restaurants and retail stores), for industrial and manufacturing facilities, for buildings that have lots of computer servers and equipment and that sort of thing. Specific to the Edmonton area we attend to many emergency roofing calls for ice damming, snow loads, and flash rain storms. Roof ice dams can cause a risk to the public if the ice dams are causing ice to fall to the sidewalk for example. Also ice dams can destroy roof systems and cause significant leaks. Snow loads, if excessive, can cause flat roofs and low slope metal roofing to collapse. And flash rain storms can cause flat roofs to collapse (if drains are plugged) and high winds can topple trees on to roofs and lift whole sections of pitched and flat roofing systems. During the roof snow load emergency events in Edmonton the winter of 2011 we responded to many collapsed roofs and buildings that were about to collapse from snow and ice loads.
Emergency, Roof Repair
Edmonton Emergency Roof Service, Metal Roof, Spot Repairs, Industrial
What Type of Building is Your Roof On? Commercial, Residential, Industrial or Institutional? The reason the type of building is important is because not all roofing contractors are experienced with the roof membranes or materials that are commonly used on different types of buildings. Also, and of serious importance, not all roofing contractors and their roofers are familiar with the fine details of working in an industrial environment (for example). Choosing a roofing company that is set up for industrial work (for example) or whatever type of building you have will go a long way to achieving a smooth and successful work completion.
Commercial Roofing
Installing a commercial roof - be sure to hire a roofing company familiar with your type of building.
Is Your Roof Low Slope Metal, a Flat Roof or Steep Pitch Residential? After you have established if the work is an emergency or not, you have identified what type of building they will be working on, then the next step is to determine what category of roof type they will be fixing. The three main types or categories of roof systems are steep slope (such as shingles, cedar, tile, metal etc), low slope membranes or low slope industrial or commercial metal roofs. Identifying which category your system falls in to will really help you with communicating with and identifying contractors that fix roofing with that specific type of work.
EPDM, Roof
Inspecting an EPDM Ballast Roof for pricing preparation.
You Need to Know What Kind of Material is on Your Roof. If there is a place most homeowners or business owners (even professional buyers) make a mistake when choosing and contracting a roofing company is at this step. You want to know specifically what kind of roof material you have because you need to confirm and verify that the company you are hiring is an expert with that specific material. Not all low slope roofing materials are alike. The same applies to steep pitch and standing seam metal roof systems. Flat roof membranes installed in the Edmonton area are typically one of the following: Tar and Gravel (Built up - the one with small pea gravel on top - not river rock size FYI, if larger like river rock that means it is ballasted), SBS Modified (Torch On - many people describe it as rolls with shingle type material on top - granules - it comes in many colors but is most often grey), TPO (Thermal Plastic - it's kind of like a rain coat material and typically white but not always), PVC (Poly Vinyl - it looks like TPO), EPDM (rubber membrane rolls typically black), Liquid Applied Rubberized Asphalt, or a coating such as Liquid Rubber. Steep pitch roofs are typically: shingles, cedar, pine, metal shingles, metal panels (standing seam or not), concrete or clay tile, composite plastic tile, rubber tile or many other. Low slope metal roofs are normally found on commercial and especially industrial buildings. They are typically one of three types or categories... agricultural grade (non locking with exposed fasteners), snap lock type or standing seam of one form or another. The above are simplified lists of available roofing material types but it should give you an idea of how to start the conversation with each company you call if you don't already know specifically what type of material is on your roof.
Roof Hatch, Curb, Roof, Tar
Curb and Hatch Retro-Fit in Edmonton on Tar and Gravel Commercial Roof.
Your Goal Should be to get Pricing for All Options Available for Your Specific Type of Roof Material (be it for temporary fixes, maintenance, replacement or a recover). At this point in your search for the right roofer, you want to task any companies pricing the work to provide you all the possible options for fixing the roof or replacement for your specific material  and building type. Request all options available in writing. Get details. Get pricing for each method and type of material. And most importantly, get the pros and cons of repairing or replacing your system for each method. Even if you are simply getting pricing for renovation work such as drains, curbs, metal parapet flashing, mechanical repairs or a roof hatch it is important to get options for pricing. Here's an example.... EPDM can be installed as fully adhered, mechanically fastened and ballasted. It can be inverted or not. The membrane itself typically comes in 45 mil and 60 mil thickness. The insulation can be sloped or not. The insulation can be different types of insulation and different manufacturers, as with the vapor barrier. Different systems and products have different warranties. And contractors have different workmanship guarantees. So in this example, not all EPDM roofs are equal - it depends on a number of factors. Just like a car is not a car or an SUV is not the same as all SUV's. A flat roof is custom designed and installed for your building, objectives and climate - at least it should be.
Knowing what I know about roofing and assuming I live in Edmonton, here are some of the specific pitfalls I would avoid.
  • Spray Foam (SPF) Roofing Installed Over an Existing Tar and Gravel Roof (or metal or whatever). The reason you need to be cautious about this is that many of the spray foam contractors are not from the roofing industry and many do not understand generally acceptable roofing principles (roofing is a red seal trade). We install spray foam as an option for our customers also, but we know that to do the job right costs real money - there is no shortcut. So the idea that spray foam (SPF) is cheaper than other membrane methods is simply not true (if done in accordance to acceptable standards for our climate). Spray foam can be a fantastic product if done correctly - if the right materials are used and the right thickness of coating over the spray foam is applied.
  • Metal Roofing Will Last Forever. Well, maybe it will last your lifetime. But did you check to see if it may leak? Actually, what it does is condensate (science is on my side there). So if it is a low slope or even moderate slope I would think real hard before installing a metal system. You will want to be sure it is as steep as possible, that the panels are locked properly, and that the installer knows what he or she is doing because there is no fixing a bad metal roof install. Also, don't fall in to the trap of the sales pitch from the manufacturer that says you need to buy their metal panel package and then get an installer - often big mistake. I take calls weekly with people that have bought a standing seam metal panel package and no qualified installer. A qualified standing seam metal crew worth any amount of weight is booked at least many months in advance - which often leaves people stranded if you want your standing seam metal installed this year if you didn't book a crew.
  • Edmonton is Cold - Use Caution. Expansion and contraction with flat roof systems is massive in Edmonton. If you have spray foam installed over a flat roof that has a coating that isn't installed properly (or not thick enough) the coating will crack and peel and water will get in and run between the spray foam and the original roof. You may then have to rip up the old system you covered and the new spray foam system and start all over. Or, if you are coating metal remember that we have more cold days than hot. Do you really think a white or reflective coating in Edmonton can achieve a net efficiency benefit to your building? Highly improbable.
  • Spot Repairs on Low Slope Metal Roofs Should Work? No. Very unlikely. You need to either replace it or do a coating over the whole roof. Why? Because water runs and it will find the path of least resistance. You can try spot repairs but don't be surprised if they don't work is all I'm trying to say.
  • With Shingles Spend the Money on Ice and Water Membrane and Proper Ventilation. Edmonton ice damming on roofs can destroy a home. Why not put a little more money in to your work and do it properly and protect your home? Ice and water should be at least one row but preferably two rows at the eaves. Ice and water shield membrane should also be in the valleys. And ventilation should be calculated and installed properly allowing for proper intake at the soffits and exhaust at the ridge. Ridge vents are the best for this.
  • Flat Roof Deck Membranes. Be cautious to get a good rooftop patio membrane that is suitable for use for foot traffic and as a low slope waterproofing membrane over a heated living space. Dectec is an excellent product for this because you do not need to add a floating deck on top of the roof membrane. Torch on is also good but it has granules so it isn't nice to walk on in bare feet so people end up having to construct a deck on top of the membrane which can cause problems.
  • Should my Low Slope Roof Membrane be White or Black? Unequivocally it should be black in Edmonton. DO NOT buy in to the marketing coming out of the United States - it does not apply to colder climates like Edmonton, Alberta. You do not want to reflect the heat from the building in 99 out of 100 instances. There are more cold days than warm days in Edmonton. Also, white roof membranes are proven to condensate in cold climates (Google search the topic).
  • Know What You Are Buying. We see this all the time. We quote a job and the customer gets two other quotes. The customer comes back to us during the quoting process and says, "but your price is 30% more, boy you guys are expensive". Well, not necessarily - in fact, I know we're not more expensive because the quality contractor that includes a specification for workmanship will last is actually more often than not operating at a lower margin but investing in long term success - in other words, less return trips. So with lower return service trips the quality contractor operating at a lower margin to start with, is actually doing better over the long run. Check the specifications closely - ask us to help and you will find that good value is always found with the quality contractor - always. You just have to discover why.
I will stop there because this article could be a book in length if I continue.
Roof Ponding, Tar and Gravel
Tar and Gravel Roof Ponding.
What are Your Main Objectives With Hiring a Roofing Contractor to do the Work? Your objectives are very important because the solutions for those objectives will determine the direction of discussions and quoting process. The scope of work for your project is directly linked to your objectives (or should be anyway). You need to communicate those objectives to your roofing contractor. It may be that you are keeping the building as a long term investment or not. Or it may be that you are looking for the least costly way just to get you through for the time being. Or, in many instances we are called for mortgage requirements or insurance purposes. Whatever it is, be sure it is clear because that will direct your contractor in the process of designing a specification that is appropriate to your needs.
Roof Deck, Roof Sheathing, Repair
Flat Roof in Edmonton Needing Sheathing Replaced for Rot.
Due Diligence Checking out residential contractors is really important if they haven't been around for a number of years because it is so easy to get a ladder, hammer and call yourself a contractor. The best advice I can give there is that if they have been around five years or more you are likely in good hands. Be cautious of the review sites because they can be "gamed". Just because contractor A has 200 good reviews and contractor B has none doesn't mean a thing. Contractor B may be booked all the time and couldn't be bothered. On the industrial and commercial side of the industry I wouldn't be as concerned. Commercial contractors have to invest significant money and run larger overheads etc. If a commercial contractor has been around for more than five years chances are they will be around for decades and you are in good hands more often than not. It is very unusual for us to run in to a commercial contractor that has been around for years that isn't doing right by their customer.
Rooftop Deck, Patio, Membrane
Low Slope Deck Membrane about to be installed on patio.
Conclusion Hiring the right contractor for your specific goals and needs is paramount to a successful experience. Follow the checklist above and it should provide a decent framework for you to hire properly. We do repairs, maintenance and replacements with every type of residential and commercial or industrial building. We also have expert experience in all methods, specifications and materials in the business. We hire the best roofers in the business (Journeyman Red Seal) and we are dedicated to the best workmanship and back it up with a lifetime workmanship guarantee. If you need any advice or if you have any questions email or call us local in Edmonton at 1.780.424.7663 or complete our online submission form. Call our 24 hour call center anytime to request a quote or roof inspection or visit our local Edmonton Roofing Repair website. I wish you the best with your project! Tyler Sinclair. Below is a video / slide show recapping the important steps to contracting a roofer in Edmonton, Alberta. Contact Us Call our 24 hour emergency roof repair at 1.780.424.7663. Mail to: 3428 99 Street NW Edmonton, Alberta T6E-5X5. We service all of Alberta including Edmonton, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Fort Saskatchewan, St Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc, Nisku, Beaumont, Lac La Biche, Grande Prairie, High Level, Westlock, Slave Lake, Edson, Drayton Valley, Devon, Camrose, Wetaskiwin, Tofield, Lamont, Morinville, Vegreville, Tofield, Millet, Calmar, Evansburg, Redwater, Onaway, Viking, Athabasca, High Prairie, Valleyview, Fairview, Peace River, Whitecourt, Mayerthorpe and many more rural areas and towns.